The Eurofighter consortium achieved a major milestone on the first of the month with the first flight of a Typhoon with Tranche 2 avionics. BAE Systems pilot Mark Bowman took aloft Instrumented Production Aircraft (IPA) 6 from the company’s Warton plant.
The consortium rebuilds the Tranche 2 aircraft to an updated standard that reflects changes in production technology. More importantly, the airplanes have new mission computers with greater capacity and processing power, necessary for the integration of planned future weapons such as the Storm Shadow and Taurus KEPD350 stand-off missiles, and the Meteor air-to-air missile.
A production contract covering 251 Tranche 2 aircraft was signed on Dec. 14, 2004. Deliveries are scheduled to run from next summer through 2013, and 18 aircraft are currently in final assembly. From Tranche 2 production the UK will receive 91 Typhoons; Germany, 79; Italy, 47; and Spain, 34.
IPA6, a Tranche 1 airframe with Tranche 2 avionics, is being used for tests with the aim of achieving Type Acceptance for Block 8 (the first capability standard of Tranche 2) in April next year.
The Eurojet EJ200 engine for Tranche 2 first flew in the right-hand bay of an Alenia-operated aircraft, IPA2, on September 14 during a flight from Caselle. A second test phase is due to get under way this month with two Tranche 2 engines in IPA2.
The German-assembled IPA7 will become the first full Tranche 2 aircraft, expected to fly for the first time from Manching before the end of the year.